So, Konami are making a realistic CoD4-style shooter. Everyone's getting worked up over the subject matter...but me, I don't give a flying fuck about whether or not it's "right", whether or not it could be considered morally dubious to make it. For me, the issue is this;
Anyone remember that Daikatana strip Penny Arcade did years back?
Anyway, on to the bulk of my rant for the day. I was reading this here article on New Scientist's website;
Teh New Scientist
"Many studies have suggested that violence in video games could be linked to aggression. To investigate further,"
Of course they're linked to aggression, you fuckwits. All competition generates aggression to varying degrees; it's human nature. Give a player of any game win/lose conditions, and watch the chemicals fly. It's the way our brains work; you give the brain the right stimulus, and it'll switch into chase/kill/flee mode, telling the body to pump you full of all the chemicals required to survive and process information quickly. There's no fucking mystery here, and quite frankly I'd be more concerned if someone played such games and showed an ice-cold state of emotional neutrality and calm...because it'd mean that they were a psychopath, and/or unhinged.
"Fuck! He saw me!"
"Are you feeling aggressive yet?"
"Are you feeling aggressive yet?"
But that "violent games ate my baby" verbal-excrement is old news, and an old rant. No, that's not what gets on my man-tits today. What gets on my man-tits today, is this bit:
"To investigate further"
To investigate further. I'msorrywhutnow? No, you can't talk about investigating further, when you're performing exactly the same sort of study as all the others, but with a *broader* range of games.
Let's bring this into some sort of context. Film Theory. Big thing, dontcha know? Entire libraries of people talking bollocks about films, making words up and generally being pseudo-intellectual. Nonetheless, they're respected pseudo-intellectuals, and their essays are required reading for anyone studying films. Not just required reading; such essays must be referenced in any subsequent analysis of films.
In an academic environment, you try stating an opinion or putting forth an analysis without a veritable sea of references and quotes, and your words will be dismissed.
You know what I see in every report surrounding such computer game studies, and the comments from the general public that soon follow?
A complete lack of what I would consider required reading. We see terms such as "driving games" and "violent games" bandied about as if they actually mean something. They mean absolutely fuck-all. What the fuck is a driving game? Are they talking about racing games? Because a racing game and a driving game could be considered to be two different things, and capable of triggering very different emotional responses. You know what would help clarify this? References. Give me names. Tell me that you sat people down in front of the following games, and that you have a carefully thought-out reason for selecting them based on setting, control system, target audience, gameplay, graphics, sound, music and all those other little details that any discerning gamer would be isolating and considering without even thinking about it.
Violent games. What the shit is a violent game? In the Thief series, it's entirely possible to complete each game (on the easier difficulty settings at least) by killing every living thing. Does that make it a violent game? Should it be dumped in the same category as Soldier of Fortune?
If someone would like to investigate further, then please feel free. But until I see such studies discussing the impact of player perspective, character design, narrative structure, basic gameplay mechanics and fucking anti-aliasing, their results are completely and utterly meaningless, and "investigating further" isn't really a term they can use.
It's about time we had something of a revolution. I want to see Game Theorists talking bollocks and making up words with as much authority as Film Theorists. When computer games are discussed, I want those who have never played games to be ridiculed and dismissed, should they decide to wax lyrical about the effects such games have on the player.
And most of all? I want Colonial Marines to be fantastic, and Bioware to realise that Dragon Age is a heap of clichéd shit, stop pissing about, and remake the Baldur's Gate series in a new beautifully-drawn Myst-4-esque version of the Infinity engine.
If I can't change the world, I can at least escape from it.
- Nick Brakespear